Summer rolled in which signalled the end of Spring, the end of school examinations, the start of the LONG school holidays, the start of less cars and less stress when driving to work (Yay!!) , the beginning of the mercury’s rising and the start of starting to eat lighter meals….
Lighter meals? Huh?
Changing the diet of my three carnivore-hombres is a HUGE challenge ;-). The so-called light dish has got to be dancing on their plates, like Michael Flatley.
Well, that’s exactly what happened. I ‘riverdanced’ my way from the Mighty Mekong and the Red River Delta and whipped up this super light, and attractive-looking wrap, the Vietnamese Summer Roll.
Summer Rolls are NOT fried, which is the lighter and healthier cousin of the Spring Rolls. Summer Rolls are served cold or at room temperature – and as the name implies – are a favourite of the locals during warm weather.
Here’s how to differentiate between the Summer and Spring Rolls, with simple equations. Confuse no more!!
Summer = warm weather = cold food
Spring = cool weather = hot (fried) food
Riverdance 20 years, The Anniversary Tour
I was inspired to make these healthy wraps after watching the spectacular Riverdance show at Brussels Expo Palais/Paleis Hall 12 end April.
Hubs, my 2 boys and I headed for the Brussels Expo one Saturday evening. There was no time to prepare dinner at home; hence, we ended up grabbing pre-packed lunchboxes from the cold storage at the Brussels Expo before the show started. I took the Bánh tráng cuốn (Rice paper rolls). It was light, very refreshing but I was really disappointed that there were no prawns!!
I vowed to outdo that slightly mediocre pre-packed din-din boxes, and went in search for a tastier Summer Roll recipe.
Oh by the way, the Riverdance show was absolutely superb!
Nope, this is not the number of the order item on a take-away menu card, however, Gỏi cuốn (Summer Roll), Vietnam was listed at number 30 on World’s 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011.
Quote: “This snack made from pork, shrimp, herbs, rice vermicelli and other ingredients wrapped in rice paper is served at room temperature. It’s “meat-light”, with the flavours of refreshing herbs erupting in your mouth. Dipped in slightly sweet Vietnamese sauce laced with ground peanuts, its wholesome, easy and the very definition of “moreish”.
Unquote: While CNN scoured the planet in search of 50 most delicious foods ever created, I scoured my kitchen to replicate number 30 *wink*.
This recipe is adapted from DanangCuisine.Com or Helen’s Recipe’s Vietnamese Fresh Spring Roll (Gỏi cuốn) with my modifications in blue
Makes 15 rolls
- 300 g pork belly (I did not use pork belly, but lean pork meat. You may use chicken, duck, beef or no meat at all)
- 200 g shrimps (For 15 rolls, I used at least 23 prawns or shrimps. I bought frozen peeled prawns. I cut the prawns in two halves)
- 200 g rice vermicelli (I used cellophane noodles or bean thread noodles, soaked in hot water until softened or al dente)
- Mint Leaves
- Basil Leaves (this was not in the recipe)
- Coriander Leaves
- Chives (I did not use)
- Cucumber (cut in flat strips)
- Carrot (this was not in the recipe – cut in flat strips)
- Rice Paper
- Warm water (for dipping/ soaking the rice paper briefly)
Recipe for the Dipping Sauce –
- 1 Tbsp oil (I used corn oil)
- 1 Tbsp minced garlic
- 5 Tbsp Hoisin sauce (I used 4 Tbsp)
- 5 Tbsp broth
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1 Tbsp sugar (to taste)
- Crushed peanuts (this was not in the recipe)
I did not follow Helen’s recipe when prepping the pork meat. Helen boils her pork belly in salted water. Instead, I wanted some flavour to the broth and added 1 onion pricked with 2 cloves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 stalk lemon grass, 4 kaffir lime leaves, some fresh coriander and 2 stalks pandan leaves tied in a knot. I added some chicken stock, salt and pepper to taste. Boil the meat until cooked but not over-cooked to avoid the meat getting too tough. I used the same broth to cook the prawns.
Dip the rice paper in warm water and dab it dry (not too dry, but just enough to remove some access water) on a clean kitchen towel. Start assembling the ingredients from one end of the rice paper, starting with some lettuce, and then moving up with slices of cucumber, carrot, glass noodles, pork slices, mint, basil and coriander leaves. On the further end down the rice paper, take 3 halves of the prawns with the cut side up. Roll the rice paper gently but tightly.
By placing the presentation side of the prawns down will result in a beautiful bright orange colour of the crustacean ’emerging’ from the almost transparent sheet of rice paper. Absolutely gorgeous!
Continue rolling until you have used up most or all of the ingredients. I found the Summer Roll on its own was rather bland but bursting with honest and natural flavours and the aromas of the fresh herbs were really fascinating and then the different layers of textures in between the folds managed to titillate my palate. I was completely bowled over! The special dipping sauce completed the dish and made it whole. YUM!
And here were my leftovers. I wrapped each roll with a cling film and placed the wrapped roll in my lunchbox. These went in the fridge overnight before I consumed them at midday the next day. The flavours remained unchanged but the rice paper was not as pliable as when they were made fresh, meaning, they became a wee bit chewer, but definitely not a problem when you dipped the roll in that amazing sauce 🙂
Vietnam is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in South East Asia, I thought by submitting this most revered Vietnamese dish to the Asian Food Fest at the June theme “IndoChina” hosted by Kelly Siew Cooks is most appropriate.
Four Seasons Food is hosted by Delicieux and Eat Your Veg, however for the month of June, the theme is the colour RED. Prawns when cooked turned out a beautiful orange-red. It would be a pity if I did not link this recipe to June’s FSF event, hosted by The Spicy Pear. So here goes…
Have a fabulous Summer!